3 Steps to Completing Your First Triathlon

You can swim well enough to not sink, you haven’t ridden a bike for years but you’re sure you would pick it up again fast enough and you suffer through a run but you feel pretty good afterwards for getting off the couch.

It’s not a matter of not being capable of doing a triathlon — just the whole idea of putting all three disciplines together in one event seems, well, a bit overwhelming. Where do you begin?

Here’s your 3 step guide to getting over the hurdle of completing your first triathlon.

1. Sign up to a race

If you have set a goal to complete a triathlon, and you’re serious about it, you need a deadline. What better motivation to train than to have the date of a race you have registered and paid for looming in the distance.

For your first triathlon, assuming you can swim one length of a pool, ride a bike continuously for about 20 minutes and jog/walk for 15 minutes, give yourself 12-16 weeks to train for a sprint distance triathlon. A sprint triathlon is a 750 metre swim, 20 kilometre bike ride and a 5 kilometre run and is an excellent race to begin with.

Check out the Totally Tri and the Tri NZ race calendars to find a race near you. It is great to start with something local as you won’t have the additional bother of finding accommodation, navigating an unfamiliar area and the best part is you can train where you will race. Many local event organisers run specific beginner triathlons too so keep an eye out for those, you may find some options shorter than a sprint distance triathlon that you could start with.

2. Find a beginner programme to follow

Unless you suffer from health issues that would make any type of exercise or change in training unsafe, there is no need to get fancy with a personalised training programme for your first triathlon.

There are many easy-to-follow training programme online available completely free.

Check out Tri Radar for free plans or Beginner Triathlete for affordable paid plans. Many of these plans also provide important advice about fuelling your body appropriately for the new training you will be doing and also for race day to ensure you don’t burn out before the finish line.

3. Use the gear you have or borrow it

There is no need to have flash gear to complete your first triathlon. The togs or wetsuit and goggles you have, the bike and helmet you can loan from a friend or neighbour as long as it’s comfortable to ride and the running shoes you already own are enough to get you through training and your first race.

Head to your local pool to get your swimming time in and spin classes or the treadmill at the gym are great ways to get time in the bike saddle or to get the running distances in – particularly if the weather is bad!

If you do have some money to spare, invest in a properly fitted pair of running shoes, this is important to prevent injury, particularly as the run can be the most fatigue inducing part of the race.

Once you’re through your first race, you will begin to learn about all of the gadgets and equipment available for triathletes – it does become addictive so don’t say you weren’t warned!

So what are you waiting for? Sign on up for a race 12-16 weeks from now, find an online training programme to follow and use or borrow the gear you have to get training and you are well on your way to becoming a triathlete!

Let us know how you get on and tag me in your training and finish line photos @samanthahowarth!

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